Little Rock, Ark. – The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) is warning of a possible Hepatitis A (Hep A) exposure after an employee of the Steak ‘n’ Shake in Jonesboro, Ark., located at 2307 E. Parker Rd., tested positive for the virus. Hep A is a contagious liver disease.

Anyone who ate at this facility on June 3, 2018 between 4 and 10:30 p.m. should seek care immediately if they have never been vaccinated against Hep A or are unsure of their vaccination status. If someone ate at this restaurant on June 3 and is unsure what time they ate there, they should still seek vaccination. There are no specific treatments once a person gets Hep A; however, illness can be prevented even after exposure by getting the vaccine or a medicine called immune globulin. This medicine contains antibodies to Hep A and works best if given within two weeks of exposure to the virus.

The Craighead County Local Health Unit (LHU) in Jonesboro will hold a walk-in clinic to provide vaccinations from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Thursday, June 14 and Friday, June 15. The Craighead Co. LHU is located at 611 E. Washington Ave. in Jonesboro. Those people who cannot attend the clinic will need a vaccine or medicine by June 17 to prevent illness. Anyone who ate at this location and does not live in the area should contact their LHU or their healthcare provider.

The Greene County Health Unit at 801 Goldsmith Rd. in Paragould will hold a previously scheduled clinic Friday, June 15 from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. At these clinics, the shot will be provided at no cost to the patient. Patients should bring their insurance card and driver’s license if they have one.

People without symptoms who have eaten at this facility on June 3 between 4 and 10:30 p.m. and are:

  • Under one year of age are too young to be vaccinated so caregivers should call their healthcare provider.
  • One year of age and older and have never been vaccinated for Hep A should get the vaccine. They can come to the LHU during the hours posted above, or contact their healthcare provider to get the vaccine. Those who are pregnant or have a chronic illness or liver disease are especially encouraged to consult with their doctor for immune globulin (medicine).

Since February 2018, 32 cases of Hep A have been reported as part of an outbreak in Northeast Arkansas, with a majority of cases in Clay and Greene counties. Cases have also been found in Lawrence, Randolph, and Craighead counties. All of the cases have been in adults.

Handwashing can also prevent the spread of Hep A. If soap and water are not available, clean hands with hand sanitizer containing at least 80% alcohol. Hep A is usually spread when a person ingests tiny amounts of fecal matter from contact with objects, food or drinks contaminated by the feces, or stool, of an infected person. Hep A can also be spread through unprotected sex or sharing of injection drugs.

Typical symptoms of Hep A include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, clay-colored bowel movements, joint pain, or jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes). Hep A is a contagious liver disease that results from infection with the Hepatitis A virus. It can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months. A person can transmit the virus to others up to two weeks before and one week after symptoms appear.

The virus can cause illness anytime from two to seven weeks after exposure. If infected, most people will develop symptoms three to four weeks after exposure. Many people, especially children, may have no symptoms. The older a person is when they get Hep A, typically the more severe symptoms they have. Up to one in three adults are typically hospitalized. Almost all people who get Hep A recover completely and do not have any lasting liver damage, although they may feel sick for months.

Hepatitis A is preventable through vaccination. Hepatitis A vaccine has been recommended for school children for many years, and one dose of Hep A vaccine is required for entry into kindergarten and first grade as of 2014. Most adults are likely not vaccinated, but may have been if they received vaccinations prior to traveling internationally. Please contact the LHU in your county for more information about vaccination. A listing of LHUs, click here.